Many people regard AI (Artificial Intelligence) as something complex and distant, but the truth is that AI has been a fundamental part of the law for several years.
While many people probably won’t believe it, AI is intimately related to the law and its future. The integration of AI with the legal system has been going on for many years, and everyone related to the law, lawyers and customers alike, are going to be affected substantially by this integration, which shouldn’t surprise anyone: both law and AI rely on reasoning, and AI certainly can be programmed to use legal reasoning.
How far can AI go in law-related instances?
Let’s speak for a moment about child benefit-related issues. In Germany, there is the concept of “parent money,” and there are institutes in Munich that have been developing new AI solutions to catch particular words and phrases to decide on child benefits claims. After identifying the relevant content, the AI compares the statements with the letter of the law and, if everything matches, approves the request. While this currently happens with a person supervising the process, there is no reason to believe that, the more the AI solutions evolve, the better they will become at specific tasks like this one.
Naturally, computers are way more efficient than humans. Especially for tasks that are so overwhelming that humans become inefficient to complete, AI can jump in and do the work faster and without making mistakes, as long as it is well programmed. It is just natural that a computer makes the research work that usually takes associates several hours of book browsing; by using data mining, AI can find, compare and retrieve pertinent information faster and more reliably than humans.
It is important to mention, though, that AI probably won’t be taking over the courts of law as judge anytime soon, since while it is possible to program certain legal thinking patterns in an AI for simple cases to just compare and determine rulings based on specific criteria, the real world and every particular case are so unique that an AI would have to be programmed for every possible case, which would be impractical. This is why companies are using AI for more mechanical jobs, like research or copyright infringement-related issues.
Does it work for traditional law firms?
While there is great potential in Artificial Intelligence, many people believe that it does not have a place in big, traditional law firms. Since big companies have a very well structured hierarchy and organization, they are not likely to entirely change it to make a place for AI, especially when they already have made a name for themselves. AI is more likely to find a place into groundbreaking new firms that are built around it. As an example of this, there have already been cases of small law firms pairing with technology developers to integrate AI into their structure, which is based on AI specifically programmed for a particular set of purposes and areas or expertise that mix well with the law firm’s needs.
While the idea of having AI to decide on a case instead of a human judge might sound a little disturbing, the computation reasoning related to AI has been used by the legal system for many years. The International Association for Artificial Intelligence and Law started in the 80’s and had been helping the legal system with various tasks, as a properly trained AI can already surpass the key abilities showed by an average lawyer.
Is it time to panic?
It is important to understand that humanity is bound to move forward and evolve, and with it, all the fields of knowledge and systems that relate to humans. Since the law has been, in different ways and circumstances, a crucial part of society over many centuries, it is only logical to start thinking on how to make it better, and AI, as one of the most potentially powerful technologies available today, should be considered as a way to achieve this. Of course, this hypothetical full integration of AI with the legal system is likely to take several years, improvements and mistakes to be achieved, as this is an incredibly complex field of knowledge. As an example, take a look at the title of one of the most relevant papers related to this field: “Tax Non-Compliance Detection Using the Co-Evolution of Tax Evasion Risk and Audit Likelihood.”
The great thing about integrating AI with the legal system is that it gives new perspective to everyone related. Instead of talking about computers, hardware and physical technological breakthroughs, engineers are starting to think about arguments and logic. There is one very important piece of software that exemplifies the benefits of this integration, and it is called ROSS. ROSS “listens” to lawyer’s specific questions and, through complex and amazing AI thinking processes, provides a concrete answer based on any given parameters, such as the country or year that the dilemma relates to. While ROSS is probably the best example of AI integrated to the legal system today, it definitely won’t be the last. As technology evolves, it is only a matter of time before complex legislations can be translated to a language that a machine can properly interpret and understand, and who knows, maybe when that is achieved, computers will start to actually pass judgment on real cases involving real people.